I am a noob in fish keeping and bought a 10 gallon aquarium 2 days back. It had 3 neon tetras, 5 guppies and 2 Indian glass fish.

On the first day one of my guppies started coming to he surface quite often and it had trouble swimming. By the end of the day it got stuck in the plants and started breathing heavily and died the next day. All my other fish also died in the same way. Now, I have only two neon tetra and don't want them to die as well.

  • 4
    Do you have an air pump? Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 21:46
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    How did you prepare the Tank for the fish? The aquarium usually would need some time WITHOUT fish (but with plants and gravel and so on) before it is in a state that fish can be safely added.
    – Layna
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 5:52
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    Did you treat the water before you added it to the tank? Tap water has chlorine in it that you need to remove before you add fish. Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 4:39

2 Answers 2


There are 2 big & lethal problems you have:

  1. You tank hasn't been cycled

As mentioned before, your tank needs to 'cycle' before you can add any fish to it. During this period, the chemical composition of the water goes through a few stages. This takes usually at least 3-4 weeks. Only after that, you can slowly start to add fish (also don't add all the fish at once!). More information can indeed be found in this answer: How does one effectively "cycle" an aquarium?

  1. Your tank is overstocked

You have a small tank, and a lot of fish in it. Basically a tank that size is (in my opinion) just large enough for a single betta fish, definitely not for 10 fish. Your fish produce waste, and if there is too much waste is also not healthy for your fish.

So the combination of these 2 things probably killed your fish. As an emergency solution you should now:

  1. Do a partial water change every day (around 50% of the water)
  2. Add chemicals to decrease the ammonia levels in the water (ask your local pet-shop)
  3. There are also chemicals to speed up this 'cycling' process. It's usually called something like 'Filter Start'. Get some of those as well.

Another word of advice: don't go to your local pet shop for advice on fish for your tank. Pet shops usually don't know much about aquariums either, and only want to sell fish/equipment. Go to a specialized fish shop and ask them for advice. These specialized shops actually know what they are talking about, and normally also care about the well being of the fish they sell. And also do your own research beforehand.


Your fish are most likely dying because the tank has not been cycled before you added the fish. You need to lean about the nitrogen cycle e.g. http://kb.rspca.org.au/Why-is-an-understanding-of-the-nitrogen-cycle-important-when-setting-up-a-fish-aquarium_454.html

In the meantime you have an emergency, and need to remove the ammonia urgently. Go to the fish shop and get something like ammo-lock.

  • How do you know it is an ammonia emergency? Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 13:43
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    Also we have How does one effectively “cycle” an aquarium? it may be a better link the external link you provided. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 13:45
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    It's typical scenario. Fish come to the surface as their gills are burned by the ammonia. Any link will do on how to cycle a tank. But I presume the RSPCA is a reliable source. Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 10:47

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